Stef Collins believes National Cup success could set the tone for the second half of Cardiff Met Archers’ campaign while avenging last season’s disappointment.
The Great Britain international was her team’s driving force on Sunday, scoring 30 points as Archers overcame Barking Abbey Crusaders 99-77 to reach a second consecutive National Cup Final.
But the player-coach got plenty of help too, as Judit Fritz and Jessica Jenkins combined to 51 points in an impressive, team display.
“It was definitely one of our better performances in terms of consistency and not allowing Barking to get back into the game in the second half,” said Collins.
“We played really well in spurts, which was highlighted by our conversion on the offensive end from Jess Jenkins and Judit Fritz and the defensive battle inside from Kate Butters and Kasey-Marie Jennings.”
Collins feels there could yet be more to come from her team however.
Archers reached the National Cup Final last season, only to be beaten 66-64 at the buzzer by Team Northumbria.
The influential guard admits that defeat has fuelled her team’s competitive fire this season, and feels going one better this year would give them the momentum to find another gear in 2015.
“I think we are still to play at our best or at least at full strength,” Collins added.
“We've had to handle some adversity week in and week out in terms of fielding a full squad.
“We're hopeful that in the New Year we will turn a corner in that consistency – a win in the cup final would certainly help set the tone for how we finish the second half of the regular season.
“In addition, after last year’s loss at the buzzer against Team Northumbria, we’ve been determined to get back to the cup final from day one, and we're very excited to see ourselves with a chance to win silverware.”
Collins and Cardiff will battle Sevenoaks Suns for the Cup at EIS Sheffield on Sunday, January 25, after Len Busch’s side overcame Bixton Topcats 61-50 in Sunday’s other semi-final.
Suns got themselves on the front foot early, leading 25-17 at half-time before outscoring Topcats 18-9 in the third quarter to assert their dominance.
Brixton fought back in the final period but had left too much to do.
Patricia Bright and Catherine Carr finished with 14 points apiece for Sevenoaks, while Lavinia Da Silva and Mrashi Karumba had 16 and 14 for Brixton respectively.
Collins said: “Sevenoaks will be a stronger team then when we played them last.
“Len has some very talented youngsters with international experience who can play at a high level and with the addition of Patricia Bright and Cat Carr back in the line-up they will certainly be a tough side to beat.”
Suns were also in WBBL Championship action on Saturday, as they snapped a five-game losing streak with a 92-36 thrashing of Leeds Beckett University.
Carr scored 32 points and Rachel James added 21 as Suns were in control from start to finish and improved to 2-7 in the league.